Why do we place customer support at the top of a successful business’s priority list? The answer lies in the hidden benefits of customer support. You see, lots of businesses “do” customer support. Few businesses enjoy the benefits — because most aren’t willing to disrupt business-as-usual by putting the customer first. Truly first.
“Customer service represents the heart of a brand in the heart of its
Here’s what you can expect when you create an unforgettable experience for your customers.
Done right, each interaction with a customer creates a real, human-to-human experience. Nowhere else do you talk with your customers on such a personal level or learn about their hopes and fears. That puts you on the same level as friends.
Like a friend, you must answer questions honestly, give simple solutions, and remove the guesswork. Genuinely attempt to reduce risk, effort, cost, time, or fear. When you do this, you make your customer’s life easier and generate feelings of hope and happiness.
Of course, anyone — whether an individual or organization — who can generate those feelings earns a special place in a consumer’s heart. That warmth is trust. It’s hard-earned and easily lost. Which is why it’s so important to get customer service right. Trust leads to loyalty, which can significantly impact your business’s bottom line.
It’s easy to imagine we know our customers. But do we really know them? Marketers and salespeople are taught to hang out where their customers hang out, eavesdrop on their conversations, stalk them in forums. The goal, of course, is customer research — to understand what makes them tick, what they want, what they hate, and any other details that can be gathered.
Meanwhile, customer support agents talk to customers one-on-one every day. No stalking necessary. Customers eagerly tell them what they’re trying to achieve, what their fears are, and how to make them happy.
The challenge is getting this information back to the teams in marketing, sales, and research and development — because there, it’s pure gold. By tapping into this information, you can save tons of effort on customer research. Apply it to marketing to better target your ads and content. Apply it to sales to overcome objections and help people make the best choices. Apply it to product development to create products and services that meet real desires and become addictive to your customers.
Consumers admit to spending more money with a company that consistently treats them right. When that need isn’t met, they’re quick to abandon intended purchases, creating an estimated $62 billion in lost sales.
Kate Leggett, Forrester Research: 2018 Customer Service Trends: How Operations Become Faster, Cheaper — And Yet, More Human
What consumers don’t specify is the kind of treatment they want. It boils down to one simple concept: They want you to make their lives easier. Eighty-three percent of shoppers need help while making a purchase — but they aren’t willing to work hard for it. Half of them will only try one time to reach out to a company. If they don’t get the support they need right away, they’ll give up and buy from a competitor.
After the purchase, the situation isn’t much better. Customers still resist putting much effort into getting their issues resolved. Typically, they’ll try twice, but if they don’t get the help they need, they quit trying. The trouble is, they may quit buying from you altogether, and again, switch to a competitor.
Regaining lost sales, then, boils down to being easily accessible to your customers. That’s a low bar that anyone can meet. And with $62 billion on the line, it’s worth the effort.
Think about what’s going on in the background when a customer complains.
Let’s say they’re considering buying eyeglasses online. They’ve narrowed their options to two brands, but they have questions for each of them, so they reach out to both companies through chat. The first company gives the exact answers to their questions. The second doesn’t respond until the next day, and when it does, it doesn’t fully answer the customer’s questions.
From the customer’s perspective, this poor experience doesn’t bode well. What if they have problems after the purchase? Will they get the help they need? If this first interaction is any indication, it will be a repeat of “United Breaks Guitars.” And in response, they’re most likely to go with the first company, even if it costs more or comes with fewer benefits.
Now, what if the purchase has already been made? The glasses arrive in the mail, and the frames are flimsy. Money has already been spent, so there’s more urgency to getting this problem resolved. The customer reaches out through chat to complain, but it takes a day for anyone to answer. When someone finally does respond, they suggest the customer doesn’t understand how to buy eyeglasses online.
The customer may or may not get a refund. Either way, they’ll probably buy from another company from now on. This one bad experience is enough to drive him to switch providers.
Research by New Voice Media has confirmed that ninety-one percent of consumers will take action after a negative experience with customer support. Half would never use the company again. A third would change their supplier. A growing number (forty-two percent) would take revenge by posting an online review or sharing their experience on social media.
Chris Bucholtz, NewVoiceMedia: The $62 Billion Customer Service Scared Away
Meanwhile, after a positive experience, nearly two-thirds of consumers report they’d be more loyal. Two-thirds would recommend the company to others. And forty percent would spend more money.
When it comes to getting and keeping customers, the quality of your support matters. Businesses that get it right are rewarded with long-term customer loyalty and an increased lifetime value of each and every customer.
There’s no arguing customers have high expectations. They want immediate answers to their questions. They want to be able to reach out in a channel that won’t interfere with everything else they’re doing at the moment. They want complete answers from a knowledgeable agent. They want quality, and value, and service.
The bar may seem impossibly high — until you step back and look at the big picture. If you place everything consumers want under one umbrella, what they really want is trustworthy solutions with no effort. Which explains why remarkable customer support tends to strengthen brand loyalty.
According to Harvard Business School, you can “create loyal customers primarily by helping them solve their problems quickly and easily.” It’s that easy. Simplicity wins.
Matthew Dixon, Karen Freemand and Nicholas Toman, Harvard Business Review: Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers
Add to that Hewlett-Packard’s finding that when customer service creates the feeling of effortlessness, it positively impacts loyalty. In fact, ninety-four percent of customers who experience low-effort service will buy from that same company again.
Hewlett-Packard: Delighting customers does not guarantee loyalty
The key to customer loyalty is a low-effort customer service.
Think of Nordstrom, Trader Joe’s, and Kohls. All are known for their focus on making the customer happy — and it easily sets them apart from the competition.
As the USA President and CEO of Mercedes Benz, Steve Cannon, said:
“ Customer experience is the new
Jim Tierney, Loyalty360: Mercedes Benz CEO: Customer Experience is the New Marketing
If your customer support sets a new bar for your industry, raising the standard of customer care, you’ll get noticed. You’ll also win the dissatisfied customers who were run off by a bad experience with your competitors.
Memorable customer support is a powerful competitive advantage. You only need to leverage it. Which is what we’re going to do in the rest of this book. We’ll start by reviewing the psychology of customer support — what your customers expect and why — and then we’ll dive into the intricacies of delivering a “wow” experience.